Yesterday was the West Sound Small Farms Expo. Now that I've recovered a bit, I thought I'd share some of the things I saw and did!
The opening to the morning was an introduction by Arno Bergstrom of the WSU Kitsap Extension and a short talk by Charlotte Garrido, Kitsap County Commissioner and farm advocate.
Arno Bergstrom of WSU Kitsap.
Arno and Shannon Harkness (WSU Extension) making sure people could find their seminar locations.
Charlotte Garrido, Kitsap County Commissioner.
After the morning introductions, I split off from my bosses, and ventured into a seminar titled: Growing Your Farm Business with Social Marketing. The presenter, Jenny Ingram, is a food blogger. You can find Jenny's Blog here, her Facebook here, and her Twitter here.
Jenny is a very animated, well-spoken presenter. She gave a great talk about how to link and properly market your business with an online presence. Her advice on to how promote without being spammy is well worth remembering. For every one self-promotional post, you should post 5-6 interesting things that you think your customers would like to read. Nobody wants to become obnoxious or spammy when promoting their product.
Jenny Ingram of the Jenny on the Spot blog.
Next I attended Flower Growing for Profit. While ornamental anything takes a back seat to food production in my priority list, it looked like an interesting seminar. Janet Foss, who grows cut flowers for market and wholesalers, gave a great and detailed presentation. Janet recommended many varieties of plants that grow well in our climate and helped identify where and what the demand was for such products. She even brought a few of her favorite tools to share with the group.
Janet Foss demonstrates the Pottiputki Planter.
Lunch was locally produced rolls, salads, soups and pastries for dessert. Food was courtesy of CJ's Evergreen Catering, Monica's Waterfront Bakery and Chef Chris Plemmons.
Our lunch speaker was Richard Conlin, Chair of the Puget Sound Regional Food Policy Council. He is from Seattle, and related stories of how they turned unused urban spaces into community gardens and encouraged healthier dietary choices. While it seemed to be a disconnect from the rural life many of Kitsap's small farmers live, it was a very interesting talk and I'm always happy to hear from an urban food advocate.
If you had some time between presentations, there were many vendor booths providing information and product samples. Represented were Poulsbo Farmers Market, Bremerton Farmers Market, Kitsap Community Food Co-op, Key Peninsula Food Co-op, Kitsap Community and Agricultural Alliance, WSU Kitsap Extension, Scratch and Peck Feed, Kitsap Food Chain, Washington Tractor, Pheasant Fields Farm, Liberty Bay Books and more! Thanks to all the vendors for being so welcoming!
Pheasant Fields Farm brought free pots of cat grass for all the Expo-goers! Thanks Nikki!
Part of Scratch and Peck Feed's display. Look! It's a Henbag!!!
Another of Scratch and Peck!
Key Peninsula Food Co-op's booth.
Kitsap Poultry Growers Co-op.
The KCAA booth.
Kitsap County Noxious Weeds.
Bremerton Farmers Market.
Kitsap Community Food Co-op.
After lunch, I attended a seminar entitled: Food Security Begins at the Co-op! The main presenter was the produce buyer for the Port Townsend Food Co-op. It was an interesting talk. Port Townsend's co-op has an all Certified Organic produce department, with the exception of four or five products which are clearly marked as such. They put a huge emphasis on local, having differing designations on their stickers and signage which identifies where their produce comes from. They also emphasize familiarity with your farmers, having profiles on each regular supplier which identifies where they are, what they grow and how they grow it. I wish we had a store nearby where everything was organic. It would be so much quicker to choose produce and move along if one didn't have to find the miniscule organic section and hope they had what you came for.
The final seminar I attended was entitled: New Tricks for Old Dogs and Young Pups, Internet Marketing. This presentation was a crash course in eCommerce. Presenter Jon Delmendo was full of information and was happy to stop and answer questions as they came up. It was an information-heavy presentation and most of it was more advanced than anything I would need, however, it was all good information to have for the future.
Finally, there was a raffle for door prizes. Lucky people won items including seed packets, books, t-shirts and one lucky winner went home with a drip irrigation kit.
The evening finished off with a beer and wine tasting for those 21 and up who chose to purchase drink tickets. Having only attended tastings where they give you a thimble-sized sample, I was pleased and also shocked that they filled up my glass on the first trip through the line. After specifying a smaller serving the second time around, I gave up my remaining drink tickets and headed for home. I like beer and wine, but I like escaping Bremerton in one piece much more!
I want to wrap this up by thanking the WSU Kitsap Small Farms Team (Diane Fish and Shannon Harkness), their sponsors Kitsap Sun, Washington Tractor, Mason-Kitsap Farm Bureau, Farmland Pets, Kitsap Credit Union, Pheasant Fields Farm, Kitsap Food Chain, The Kitsap Peninsula Visitor and Convention Bureau and Central Market. Also, thanks to all the speakers, presenters and vendors, the caterers and the local beer and wine producers. What an amazing day!